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Underarm Cyst Causes, Pictures, Painful, Sebaceous, Symptoms & Treatment

Do you suffer from armpit cysts yet you do not know why? Cysts on under arms is a problem that affects both male and female, they are mostly painless but can also be painful if infected. We have information on not just the causes of underarm cysts but also symptoms, sebaceous cysts, removal treatments, home remedies, and much more.

Cysts are non-cancerous closed sacs or “closed pockets of tissue that can be filled with fluid, pus, or other material” [webmd.com] with their outer wall known as capsule. If you touched them, they feel like peas (or pimple like) beneath your skin surface (and on your internal organs such as kidney, liver, etc.) and they can appear on anywhere. People all ages and gender can have cysts i.e. they can be on both men and women of all ages. In our discussion today, we are going to focus on armpit cysts or underarm cysts.

A large underarm cyst
A large underarm cyst

The most common cyst that will affect your underarm are the acne, sebaceous cysts and epidermal inclusion cysts. However, you can also get the pilonidal cysts although they normally “occur on the skin near the cleft of the buttocks.”

Armpit cyst symptoms

Armpit cysts could be small (microscopic) or large and noticeable. These cysts will be on and around or near your armpits (cyst near armpit) and can be caused by a number causes we are going to discuss. The symptoms you expect might be related to the cause of armpit cyst cause.

The most obvious underarm cyst symptom is the abnormal lump-like structure that might develop on your underarm. Other symptom is that fact that most cysts are painless (unless raptured, infected or inflamed), grow slowly and they are “smooth to the touch when they are rolled under the skin” [webmd.com].

Underarm cyst pictures

To help you see visually how they look like, below is a photo or image of cyst in underarm. You will get more armpit pictures or photos through this post.

Underarm Cyst Causes, Pictures, Painful, Sebaceous, Symptoms & Treatment
Underarm Cyst

What causes cyst under arm?

To effectively remove or treat armpit cysts, you must know the reasons why they are coming or their cause. Of course there are many causes and diagnosis by a professional healthcare personnel might be important. Some of the most common or possible underarm cysts causes include the following.

Shaving and use of deodorants

Cyst in armpit can be caused by shaving especially if they occur in adolescents who have just began shaving their underarm hair. Adults can also have armpit cysts due to shaving. Furthermore, the use of antiperspirant or deodorant my also encourage cysts. Proper shaving technique are often advised.

Cysts under armpit due to bacterial infection

Moist, and little light in armpits can encourage bacterial growth especially which can them get into your skin, causing cysts especially the streptococcal and staphylococcal infections. Most people end up with enlarged lymph nodes too when this happens. Antibiotic and other bacterial treatment options are often advised.

Viral and fungal infection

Some fungal and viral infections could be behind the cysts under armpits. For instance, sporotrichosis, shingle, chicken pox and some problems that may result from HIV AIDS due to a weakened immunity my cause these them.

Cyst under arm cancer

Presence of a lumps on your armpits could be a sign lymphoma cancer that results from collection of damaged lymphocytes at the affected node. The swelling may ache and if the cancer begins to spread, expect symptoms such as fatigue, fever, night sweats, sudden weight loss, itching, loss of appetite, etc. neck and groin lymph nodes may also be affected. Both the Hodgkin’s lymphoma as well as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma are known to cause lumps on under arms.

Fibrocystic breast changes

Women who suffer from lumpy or tender breasts immediately before their menstrual cycle can end up with cyst-like feeling in their armpits. This will happen if the condition extends from your breast tissue to your underarm tissue.

Various vaccinations

Allergic reactions to vaccines for conditions such as mumps, smallpox, typhoid, rubella, measles, etc. can cause both underarm cysts and swollen or enlarged lymph nodes. This is temporary and it will go away with time.

Hidradenitis suppurativa

Sometimes you might suffer from small cyst on arm under skin and groin are due to the many oil and sweat glands in this region. This is due to hidradenitis suppurativa where “clusters of abscesses or subcutaneous boil-like “infections” (oftentimes free of actual bacteria) that most commonly affects apocrine sweat gland bearing areas, such as the underarms, under the breasts, inner thighs, groin and buttocks” [en.wikipedia.org].

Lipoma cyst in armpit

Another possible cause of particularly small cysts in armpits is lipoma. “A lipoma is a slow-growing, fatty lump that’s most often situated between your skin and the underlying muscle layer” [mayoclinic.org]. It is not cancerous, feel doughy and moves if you apply pressure on it. At times, it can be growing and painful. In such a case, removal might be necessary.

Keratin buildup

Another possible cause of cysts in your armpits could be keratin buildup. When this happens, you end up with epidermoid cysts. Epidermoid cysts “are noncancerous small bumps beneath the skin. Epidermoid cysts can appear anywhere on the skin, but are most common on the face, neck and trunk” [mayoclinic.org]. They are caused by keratin buildup, they grow slowly, do not need treatment and are painless. If you do not like them, are painful, infected or raptured, you might need to see a doctor for treatment.

Epidermoid cysts are more common in men that women and their sizes vary from a few millimeter to about 5 centimeters.

Other causes of cyst on armpit

These are not the only reasons why you could be having cysts on your armpits. Other possible causes include cat scratch fever, mononucleosis, infection of a woman’s breast tissue, breast cancer, some medications, autoimmune disorders such as systematic lupus erythematous, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, excessive sweating, etc.

Pilonidal cyst armpit

This refers to “cyst or abscess near or on the natal cleft of the buttocks that often contains hair and skin debris” [en.wikipedia.org]. On rare occasions, they can also affect your genital region, armpits and navel. To know you have pilonidal cyst in your armpit, you will have symptoms such as discomfort or a swelling in your underarm, bloody or opaque yellow discharge and unexpected moisture in your underarm.

To treat them, try hot compresses, antibiotic therapy, and use of depilatory creams. Surgical excision may be advised in some occasion

Small cyst in armpit

Small cysts in armpit can be caused by any of the causes we have mentioned. However, lipoma, some sebaceous cysts and hidradenitis suppurativa are the most common cause of tiny, little or small underarm cysts. Sebaceous cysts can at times be very large.

Infected underarm cyst

Sometimes, a cyst on underarm may be infected especially if they are popped, they rapture or burst. Some of the common symptoms of an infected underarm cyst include redness, tenderness, pain and warmth around the area with a cysts. While infected armpit cysts might drain, ensure they do not evolve to subcutaneous abscesses. Try warm compresses to encourage them to drain.

Small underarm bump like cyst
Small underarm bump like cyst

Painful cyst in armpit or does an underarm cyst hurt

In most instances, cysts are painless but could be painful at times. The Underarm cyst pain could be mild to severe, could come before the actual cyst begins to develop, could be worsen as you move your arm and it could be due to infection i.e. once infected, they tend to be painful or sore, red and tender.

In case you have painful cysts in your armpits, the first treatment you should consider should be an anti-inflammatory medications to reduce the pain and inflammation. You can then take antibiotics in case you have an infection while surgical and laser procedure will be recommended to completely remove the cyst.

Sebaceous cyst armpit

Sometimes, occlusion of a duct that drains your sebaceous glands can lead to formation of a fluid filled cysts, often known as sebaceous cysts anywhere on your body including your armpits i.e. “cysts which originate from sebaceous glands and which contain sebum” [Wikipedia.org].  It can be on both your axilla (underarm), left or right axilla alone. They are less common when compared to epidermoid cysts.

Sebaceous cyst armpit picture or pic
Sebaceous cyst armpit picture or pic

The sebaceous cyst in armpit are often appear when your sebaceous glands gets blocked, you have high levels of testosterone, you use androgenic anabolic steroids, hereditary factors or you have a swollen hair follicle i.e. sebaceous cyst in armpit hair follicle. Anyone can have it.

Symptoms of armpit sebaceous cyst

Some of the common symptoms you expect to have include sore and tender skin, skin redness, “Grayish-white, cheesy, foul-smelling material that drains from the cyst” [nlm.nih.gov] and some warmth on the affected area.

Sebaceous cyst under arm treatment

Normally, they not require medical treatment especially sebaceous cyst in armpit is still small. You can try moist warm compress.  However, if you want them removed for some reason such as it being large, swollen or tender, the sebaceous cysts armpit removal might involve surgical removal. This is a simple excision process that removes the sac with all its content. Antibiotics might be recommended in case the cyst is infected with bacteria.

Armpit cyst removal or underarm cyst treatment

I most instances, cysts under your armpits will disappear on their own. However, some might require treatment. The armpit cyst removal or underarm cyst treatment option you go for is depended on the cause. A physical exam and wiggle test i.e. “growth by squeezing the lump between thumb and forefinger, and move it back and forth. If it wiggles, it’s probably a cyst” [health.howstuffworks.com] might be helpful in confirming if you actually have a cyst or a lump in your underarm. Biopsy might be necessary if they are suspected to be cancerous. However, the underarm cysts are rarely cancerous.

Popping and draining

Underarm cyst removal - Draining
Underarm cyst removal – Draining

Some cysts might require popping and draining for the symptoms to disappear. Popping might require a scalpel or needle and it should be done by a specialist. This method does not cure them but relieves the symptoms especially if they are pus filled. They may heal on their own but this method presents the possibility of the cysts reappearing again.

Medications and injections

Cortisone injections can be used to shrink the cysts.  This is steroid injection that reduces swelling. Infected cysts on your under arm may require medications such as antibiotics or antifungal, depending on what caused they.

Surgical underarm cyst removal

If you have tried all the above armpit cyst treatment without success, you should consider armpit cysts removal surgery removal. This is only recommended with they are large and they have serious and troubling symptoms. Ignoring large cysts on your armpits can hinder your normal activities. Instead of the normal surgical removal, laser surgery can also be used for cyst destruction.

Home remedies

There are many home remedies that can be used to treat underarm cysts. Some of the popular remedies you should try include hot compresses, washing with antibacterial soap and if the cyst bursts, clean it with an antibacterial ointment to reduce changes of infection.

However, do not pop, squeeze or open your cyst since this leads to scarring, infection and it might increase the chances of more cysts appearing. However, if the cyst is puss filled and it has ripen, you can actually pop and drain it.

Cyst in armpit female

In female, armpit cysts can be due to any of the causes we have already mentioned. However, some causes such as fibrocystic breast changes and infection of a woman’s breast tissue are unique to women alone.

Cyst in armpit male

As mentioned early, under arm cysts affect anyone including children, teenage and adults. Any of the above causes can be a reason for men, except for the causes that affect only women. However, epidermoid cysts and sebaceous cysts (if one uses androgenic anabolic steroids or has high testosterone levels) are more common in men than women.

Further recommended reading
References and sources

About Vladmir Kucherov

14 comments

  1. my wife have under arm pit and liking have cancer metastaz
    What is probability for remedy ? In this case?
    Tanks any way for your explicit informations!

    • See a cancer expert for further diagnosis and treatment to kill it and avoid spreading before you can embark on remedies that might boost her recovery and immunity especially with immunotherapy

  2. How many coments you want?

  3. cancer arm pits cyst lump burst survyvel rate ?

    • This is basically lymph node cancer which is treated by surgery. The consequences of the surgery depend on when it was detected and how many lymph nodes are affected. What to expect is exactly what cancer.org reports “Nodes that have been removed during cancer surgery can leave part of the body without a way to drain off the lymph fluid in the affected area. Many of the lymph vessels now run into a dead end where the node used to be, and fluid can back up. This is called lymphedema, and it can become a life-long problem”.

  4. I woke up this morning and found something like a small seed-like thing under my armpit, it looks like a papaya seed but felt like a little stone, it didn’t hurt and when I was touching it to see if it may have been something stuck in my armpit hair, it just came off. Is it normal to have these seed-like things growing under your arm?

  5. I have a very small & dark bumpy like things on my armpits. I have been this for a year & a half. I went to the dermatologist and they gave me some medicines and ointments but it is still there. I don’t know what to do. I thinking of removing it through laser. what should I do?

  6. When I was a teenager, about 40 years ago, I had an allergic reaction to antiperspirant and ended up with cysts under my arms. So, now I still have these lumps or enlarged sacs under my arms that cause some pain when pressed upon. This is not new, just learned to live with it. My question is, could these still be removed?

  7. Hello. I have a medium sized bump under my right armpit and its been there for a while, it comes and goes from time to time but it really hurts and very annoying. I was diagnosed with hodgekins lymphoma a year ago and finished all my chemo sessions. But i dont know what to do to get rid of this bump or cyst and its really painfull and it never fills up with puss or anything which makes it more frustrating because i cant get rid of the pain or the swelling for about a week or a couple of days more. Please help me with my problem and contact me on my email. hadikameel96@gmail.com

  8. I have what looks like and feels like an ingrown hair in my armpit… It’s swollen and is painful… can’t really move my arm because its so sore…. I’ve tried everything and it has not popped or hasn’t even came to a head… It might have to be extracted…. What could this be?… I’m so nervous…

  9. I’m 16 and I am experiencing the same thing though mine is painful when I try to move my arm. I’m scared of lasers or surgeries and it scared me when you mentioned about the cancer part. More or less likely, before we approach a specialist or a doctor, can you recommend something that may ease down the pain ? It hurts.

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